Think church isn’t dying?…Think again….
20% of Americans under the age of thirty think the church is something important to attend.
Just under 60% of Millennials drop out of church despite being raised in a church.
So what’s the root of the problem here? Depending on who you ask you’ll get twenty different answers.
Some will say churches are doing a poor job of reaching people
Some will say the church isn’t adapting well to the new generations
Others say a church isn’t necessary anymore with the technology of being able to hear your favorite speakers live at the touch of a button.
All of those reasons may be part of the answer, but the actual reason why the church is dying is that of you.
“ME? What the heck did I do? I’ve been attending church faithfully for X number of years.”
That’s good for you, but any organization dies or thrives based on leadership. Not just from the lead pastor or any associate pastors on staff, but from the entire church body.
If I asked you to define the word “church” you’d probably tell me something about a building where people come together to worship a higher power. I’d tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong, people are confusing a building with a church. A building is a location where people gather together. While a church is a collection of individuals working together to help fuel and continue the ministry of Jesus.
So what am I getting at? The church in the past ten years has experienced poor leadership from within its ranks. The problem at hand is people write off the younger generations and label them as “millennials” or “spoiled” or “inconsistent” and decide just to keep focusing on themselves. Why does any of this matter? Here’s the dirty little secret to church:
IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW FANTASTIC YOUR BUILDING IS.
IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW AMAZING YOUR SPEAKER IS.
IT DOES NOT EVEN MATTER HOW TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY YOUR CHURCH IS.
PEOPLE WILL KEEP LEAVING YOUR CHURCH IF YOU DO NOT INTENTIONALLY SEEK THEM OUT AND MAKE THEM FEEL WANTED.
But at my church, we give out free coffee and a free book to someone if you’re new…
And I can go to a Starbucks and get a free coffee if I sign up for a card…
Well, my church we have groups for people to sign up and to be a part of…
Why would I sign up to sit in a room full of strangers?
Let me prove my point…When I was 19 years old, I finally could decide where I wanted to go to church if I even wanted to go to church. After three months of not going to church I decided to go to this small church with maybe 30-40 people who attended. At this time they still had a projector where someone had to manually move the words up and down to know which lyrics were coming up. Nobody recorded any talks; there were no apps, there wasn’t even a youth group! WHY DID I a 19-year-old millennial go to church there?! Because a group of older guys came up to me on my first night and invited me to play football with them next Sunday. They started inviting me to bonfires and church outings. I was connected to the people to the point where I could overlook some of the obvious glaring omissions to the church because I was connected.
I’m talking to you right now as a church member, if you are having problems with the article and thinking that it’s a bunch of B.S., then I hope you listen to this. You as a member of a church congregation are directly responsible for a church’s decline in attendance if you aren’t going out of your way to put yourself in someone’s life. The biggest form of leadership isn’t preaching from a pulpit; it isn’t building a giant building. What it entails is the small things like asking someone who shows up to your church for the first time for coffee. Or even having a personal conversation and getting to know their story.
I learned a little trick when I was working as a teller in a bank; a customer is much more likely to leave a bank at the first sign of trouble or inconvenience if they only have a credit card with the bank. On the other hand, if they have their checking account, savings account, IRA account, credit cards, mortgage, and business loan with our bank they’ll be more willing to overlook a small inconvenience because of how much they’d have to replace if they left the bank.
Let’s input a little business savvy into our church; it’s much easier for a person to leave a church at the first sign of trouble if they are only attending on Sunday mornings for one service and then leaving immediately after. They don’t have to answer any questions about them leaving and usually nobody even notices. Maybe you don’t even notice, but after a while, more and more people start to follow suit and then you’re left asking the question “why are people leaving our church?” Flip the script here for a moment, let’s say you have someone who attends one service, serves as a kids leader in another service, is a part of an ongoing breakfast group at the church, and occasionally comes to a community outreach event.That person is much more likely to ignore when the church messes up because they have so much emotional equity in the people that embody the church.
Here’s the call to action, if you are someone who attends a church you need to identify one person who is new or newer and make it a point to get them connected with the church somehow. This isn’t for the staff of a church or the lead pastor this for the people who attend. Do you want to grow in your leadership? Put everything you’ve learned to practice. You have no idea what the impact of something so small as inviting someone to get coffee with you can have.